No. 6.
Mr. Taft to Mr. Frelinghuysen .

[Extract.]
No. 26.]

Sir: Inclosed I send an article, cut from a leading journal here, evidently written in the interest of the producers of meats in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. You will observe that it is proposed to extend the prohibition heretofore existing against pork to beef, and to all kinds of American meat. I have called upon the foreign office to inquire as to the purposes of the Government in regard to this matter, but could get [Page 7] no indication that the Government had it under consideration at all. Yet there seems to be an expectation that the Government will adopt the suggestions of this article. Two gentlemen of this city, Austrians, who are importers of American meats, have called upon me to see what could be done to prevent the carrying out of this purpose. They were very much alarmed, and said that if carried out it would ruin their business altogether. I have thought it proper to call your attention to the subject and ask your instructions.

In this connection I should be glad to know what is the present position of the French Government on the same subject. * * * I hope that this Government has no purpose to extend the prohibition, as has been suggested, but that, on the contrary, it may be induced, on a more full consideration of the facts in the case, to rescind its order against our pork; but it would seem to require some attention at this point.

I ought to add that the doctor, Kammerer, who presented these propositions to the city council of Vienna, is the head officer of the sanitary department of the city. To us, who have so long lived upon American meats without a thought of danger or of any need of inspection, and who have had far more fears of being struck by lightning than of being made sick by eating American beef or pork, the idea of forbidding the importation of our pork or beef into European markets on sanitary grounds seems very absurd; but there is evidently a good deal of pains being taken to create apprehensions among the people of danger from eating American meats.

I am, &c.,

ALPHONSO TAFT.
[Inclosure in No. 26.—Extract from the Vienna Tagblatt of November 5, 1882.—Translation.]

measures against trichinosis.

In the Rudolf’s Hospital a death occurred recently caused by trichinosis, in consequence of which the city physician, Dr. Kammerer, submitted a memorandum to the city council containing precautionary measures to be adopted against the spreading of this dangerous disease.

The examination of the meat of slaughtered animals takes place at present, as is known, in the districts of Vienna, by market commissaries, who go to the respective parties after having been notified. This measure the city physician finds inadequate, since at present a reliable control over these slaughtered animals is lacking.

As the best measure against the sale of meat injurious to health, the city physician points out the extension of the law requiring the killing of hogs to take place in public slaughter-houses in Vienna and the suburbs, since by these means alone a prompt, unexceptional, and technical examination of the animals can be arrived at.

Already by the law of March 9, 1866, published by the governor of Lower Austria, a proper inspection of meat conducted in conformity with the regulations is required, and stress is laid upon the public instructions concerning trichinosis published by the governor of Lower Austria in 1877, that the exact microscopical examination will be possible only when public slaughter-houses shall exist everywhere, and slaughtering be allowed to take place only in such.

The city physician makes the following suggestions in the interest of the public health:

  • First. The slaughtering of hogs in the houses of the respective trades-people should be prohibited, and the slaughter-house requirement should be extended, for the reason above alluded to, to the slaughter of hogs.
  • Second. That means should be adopted to establish this law also in the suburbs, where, until now, it does not exist (not even for oxen).
  • Third. For every slaughtered hog brought from the suburb into Vienna, proofs should be adduced that it has been examined microscopically.
  • Fourth. For sausages and smoked meats imported from abroad, proof should be demanded, on passing the custom-house, that they are free from trichinӕ.
  • Fifth. The import of meat, of whatever kind, from America (so-called canned meat, &c.), should be prohibited without exception, on account of unreliable control and doubtful origin.

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Fatal infective diseases are likewise of frequent occurrence among American cattle and the so-called Texas fever, a disease related to the rinderpest, has made sad havoc and since beef has a higher value than hogs, and this disease may lie dormant for a long time in the animal, there can be, no doubt that such meat is prepared as corned beef.

Aside from this, Mr. Mayer, a chemist, has shown the presence of lead in corned beef; that is to say, as much as 99 milligrams in one box. To this it must be added that even the American newspapers have pointed out the fact that not only horse flesh, but also the meat of diseased animals, has been used by the people in the business. Since the preparation of canned meat does not destroy the disease, the question is: Are we bound to the consumption of corned beef, and is the consumption of it a pecuniary advantage?

These questions must be answered in the negative. The first by the fact that frequent diseases have resulted from eating these conserves; the second, by the circumstance that the box weighing one kilo contains about seven hundred grams of eatable meat, which, at one mark and seventy five pfennige, is sold at a higher price than a domestic article of equal value. In Vienna, likewise, these conserves are met in the market, and most dealers in delicacies sell the box for one florin and twenty kreutzers, or much dearer than a domestic article of the same value. For these reasons the proposition of the city physician to prohibit the import of American meats of all kinds is no doubt perfectly justified.